Much has been made of the raging success that is WWE’s developmental territory NXT. Some of today's marquee names in sports entertainment prove to be products of the famed training ground. Formerly known as Florida Championship Wrestling (FCW), WWE rebranded the entity to NXT and began producing shows where up and coming talent could showcase their skills.
Once viewed as the minor leagues of professional wrestling, the promotion has risen to such levels of success that it is often regarded as its own distinct identity. With weekly television programming and extensive touring, the territory has pumped so much talent through the pipeline that the WWE can successfully attempt their forthcoming brand split with confidence. Much of the success of WWE’s ground breaking circuit can be attributed to the state of the art Performance Center also based in Florida, where the best of the best aspiring professional wrestlers have access to a fully equipped facility with rings, fitness equipment and the latest audio-visual technology which enable performers to develop their personas to their fullest potential. While the training grounds do not receive as much exposure as the main roster and their activities, we'll take a behind the scenes look at some things you did not necessarily know went into producing the stars we see today.
15 First Ever Female Coaches In History Of Developmental
NXT has served as a major platform for pushing women's wrestling towards uncharted waters. Women are granted far more exposure on NXT and have even gone on to headline Pay-Per-Views there, like the historic match between Bayley and Sasha Banks at NXT Takeover: Respect back in October of 2015. NXT is flooded with an undeniable amount of talent, pushing the entire female roster to outdo one another.
14 Controversial Firings
For all the great things that the Performance Center offers to aspiring and current talent, they have had their share of bad apples and controversy as well. WWE takes great pride in providing the recruits with the best quality coaches and trainers, which are usually retired stars with decorated careers. Among those who had the opportunity to teach recruits at the center were Bill DeMott and Billy Gunn. Both have been unceremoniously dismissed by the WWE and the Performance Center for specific reasons which violate the company's policies on professional conduct and wellness respectively.
13 Green Room Character Development
Today's Superstars don't only require elite athletic ability, as their gimmicks figure just as vital to the success of their careers. Sometimes, charisma can carry a performer beyond his physical limitations or a lack there of can weigh down a character (i.e. Neville). Nonetheless, the WWE recognizes the importance that gimmicks and personas play in today's sports entertainment climate, and the Performance Center was designed with the aims of enabling each aspiring professional to maximize their potential to the fullest.
12 Live Cameras Reporting Back To HQ
Vince McMahon has been known to have a say or hand in absolutely everything that goes on in the company. The Performance Center is no exception. One of the most intriguing technological advancements found in the ground-breaking training center proves to be a live feed camera which reports back to head quarters in Stanford, Connecticut. The recruits remain on guard, as at any given time, Mr. McMahon or Triple H may be viewing the activity going down at the facility. This prompts the athletes to remain on their best behavior, work as hard as they can, and demonstrate their willingness to learn and improve.
11 Experienced Coaching
The WWE aimed to assemble a cast of coaches with various backgrounds in professional wrestling who almost all spent some time with the company at some point or another. Each have their own backgrounds, experiences, wrestling styles and acting tips that they can pass down to the eager-to-learn recruits at the training facility. Matt Bloom serves as the head coach. You may remember him as Albert in the WWE, among other characters he successfully played during his career. He is joined by technical wrestling aficionados Norman Smiley, Robbie Brookside and Terry Taylor, to name a few.
10 Custom-Built High Flyer Practice Ring
Unique in the industry, the Performance Center has pushed the envelope yet again with the construction of a specifically designed ring made for high-flyers to practice their manoeuvres without fear of injuring themselves. The ring differs from the standard live performance rings as it includes an extra absorbent landing cushion beneath the traditional canvas which facilitates the execution of the high-risk manoeuvres. Many Superstars such as Kofi Kingston and Neville have raved about how innovative and practical such a piece of equipment is when mastering the art of this style of wrestling. WWE has kept under close wraps the actual make up of the materials, as it is a first of it's kind in the industry and has a patent pending.
9 Ring Bell From First Ever WrestleMania Hung On Wall
Memorabilia of all sorts drape the many walls of the facility, almost serving like an unofficial shrine to sports entertainment. Many of the pieces serves as invaluable fragments of inspirations, as some of the collectibles date back to before many of the aspiring talent were even born. The most renowned item found in the Performance Center is arguable the ring bell used in the inaugural WretleMania. It hangs above the locker room door and is often the last thing performers see as they enter the actual training ground. All sports locker rooms, from amateur to professional, have something similar as the athletes prepare to go out and do what they love.
8 5,500 Square Foot Strength And Conditioning Room
WWE Superstars are among the most elite athletes in the world. Over the years, there has been a visible shift in the physical make up of the performers. With less of an emphasis on the bodybuilder physique, functional strength has taken the forefront, which can only enhance the quality of their performances, as wrestlers are now conditioned to perform more styles than ever all at once. Triple H made it a vital point of ensuring the facility be equipped with the absolute best platforms for strength and conditioning.
7 Tons Of Former Pro Athletes Train There
Professional wrestling has always showcased athletes from other disciplines. The current roster today boasts a number of former football stars, models, cheerleaders, MMA fighters, and rosters of the pass have all had their fair share as well. WWE clearly believes in the potential of these types of elite athletes and frequently grant tryouts to these types of people, as the formula has worked in the past.
6 Average Salaries
A lot of speculation has been made of just how much the performers make while they are training down at NXT, or of those Superstars who appear regularly on programming and live events. With a bit of research, we were able to come up with some approximate figures for the 2015 roster. Prime players like Finn Balor, Samoa Joe and Kevin Owens earned roughly $8,000 per week as headliners, while the highest paid women such as Sasha Banks, Charlotte and Bayley earned nearly $5,000.
5 Taping Schedules
The programs we see weekly on the WWE network for NXT are often filmed three at a time during one show. Usually broadcast from Full Sail University in Florida, the Amphitheatre will often record programming for shows three weeks in advance in one take. This is why we often do not see the same wrestlers wrestling in consecutive weeks, as it is made to be spaced out purposely. What we see in a highly jam packed one hour show every Wednesday may have very well be filmed three weeks ago.
4 No Warning Prior To Call Up
As we have seen with the behind the scenes footage captured by film crews for WWE’s inside look on their show Breaking Ground, Superstars are kept in the dark prior to being called up and told on the spot. According to Executives, this method is used to ensure complacency does not install themselves in the Superstars if they know too early that they are moving up to the main roster. This ensures that competition remains fierce and Superstars stay hungry, and continuously work to improve daily, which can only make the company better in the long run.
3 Shooting Incident In 2015
Perhaps an all to familiar theme in today's climate, senseless crimes of hate are committed everywhere, including at the WWE Performance Center in August of 2015. A man by the name of Armando Montalvo grew increasingly obsessed with an unnamed female performer at the facility and followed her extensively. The situation mounted in tension as one day, Montalvo forced entry onto the grounds of the facility, trespassing beyond security and frantically searching for the object of his obsession.
2 Ground Breaking “Pre-Hab” And Medical Facilities
The WWE main roster has been terribly unlucky over the last year with several marquee names losing significant time due to injury. Randy Orton, Seth Rollins, John Cena (twice), Bray Wyatt, and Neville have all been shelved extensively with bumps and bruises. Anytime a Superstar misses time, it creates havoc for creative teams, as stories must be re-written, plans changed and bookings adjusted.
1 iPad Influence
From the minute you walk into the facility to the last time you leave, your entire body of work will be recorded with the ability to be re-broadcast at any given moment on one of the many iPad tablets that cover the walls of the facility.
Promo practice, move sets, conditioning, one on one coach sessions: NXT Superstars log on to a tablet, search, and review their work. It is a constant influx of information which leaves no stones unturned. The aspiring talent essentially have their every move documented and can go over this at their convenience in order to evaluate on their own, with peers or coaches on where they excel and, more importantly, where they can improve. Yet another advancement unique to the WWE Performance Center that really makes it the Mecca of sports entertainment training. Many Executives have claimed that the onus lies on the Superstar and how hard they want to work in order succeed, as the technology provides them every opportunity to constantly improve.
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